The Ivinghoe Fire Hook - Atlas Obscura

The Ivinghoe Fire Hook

Ivinghoe, England

Before firefighters, villagers relied on this simple hook to save their thatched cottages from a fiery doom. 

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Located on St Mary’s churchyard wall in Ivinghoe is a long, imposing tool known as a thatch hook. This particular instrument was designed for the purpose of extinguishing thatched roof fires. For much of history, prior to the advent of firefighters, communities relied upon their neighbor’s help to fight fires. This is where the thatch hook came into play, as it was used to drag the burning thatch from the roof of the cottage to prevent the fire from spreading. The huge hook required several individuals to wield it effectively.

Beneath the thatch hook, there are two additional items on display. The first is a brass plaque commemorating the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, while the second is a “mantrap” used on private property to discourage intruders and poachers, a reminder of the harsh realities of life during the 18th century.

Today, the thatch hook serves as a relic of the past, as there are no longer any thatched roofs in Ivinghoe. Nevertheless, it remains a fascinating artifact that offers a glimpse into the unique challenges faced by communities during a bygone era.

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September 21, 2023

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